Prior to March 2020, many of the potential developments and trends discussed in the pharmaceutical industry in relation to sales and marketing were slowed down or met with good old-fashioned resistance. When the pandemic struck and the world came to a standstill, the implementation of this stifled potential accelerated rapidly. The first to come to mind are virtual interaction and digital adoption. In addition, a less predictable trend has emerged to the fore: some brands of pharmaceutical companies have risen to prominence and entered everyday consumer badge conversations alongside domestic heroes like Apple, Microsoft (PC), Amazon, Netflix, Nike, etc. These are brands that now have a certified street cachet, even though pharmaceutical brands failed to land the world’s most comprehensive Kantar Brandz ™ top 100 brand equity study last year, a study made up of nearly 4 million interviews with consumers covering 18,500 brands in 512 categories in 51 markets.
While it appears that the hike initially was more of an accident than a conscious decision in this case, the question remains: “Will the drug companies continue to operate with exposure or will they fall back on others?” more traditional approaches like product branding? It’s probably a little more complicated than that, of course.
In an effort to free society from the shackles of COVID-19, the development of mRNA vaccines has been accelerated and hailed as an incredible achievement and a potential liberator and savior. Because products cannot be branded until FDA approval, it’s safe to say that Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) has catapulted three corporate brands into the limelight of American consciousness: Pfizer, an industry giant and logistics / testing partner for BioNTech, a vaccine developer; Moderna, a compact and focused upstart who didn’t generate much income before the pandemic; and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), perhaps the only pharmaceutical company brand to have significant brand awareness in the United States, through its consumer products. Many people can still remember the cursive logo on a box of bandages or baby powder.
By default, the EUA vaccines have become the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine, and J&J vaccine, respectively, and for better or for worse. At this point, it has worked pretty well for Pfizer and Moderna, while potentially damaging the J&J brand. Then again, with J&J’s recent strategic split between consumer and pharmaceutical / medical device companies, it could be that all publicity is good publicity. Time will certainly tell.
But for now, Pfizer, the leader of the peloton, which forecasts $ 36 billion in vaccine revenue for 2021 in its third-quarter financials, is advertising its corporate brand like never before, sponsoring morning and evening programs from multiple media, sports and weather and appearing in late night skits, social media, radio spots and TV commercials. Even though Comirnaty has been approved, its brand awareness is almost non-existent and Pfizer is staying the course with advertisements that do not mention the patented product and, in turn, have the advantage of not displaying a fair balance – “Ne Not Miss Your Shot “is the latest TV commercial, starring Brooklyn Nets player Bruce Brown. Today people proudly wear their Pfizer, Moderna or J&J badges, a phenomenon that never really existed in the world. history of corporate pharmaceutical brands It has to be something to build on.
Pharmacy Director contacted Beth Beck, a member of the Fingerpaint leadership team, who commented: “In terms of branding in general, in the past a typical brand manager would deal with simpler brand structures. Today, many companies have not only multiple products, but also multiple therapeutic areas / divisions. If you also overlap the complexity of a fragmented and complex healthcare market, there is more need to consider a holistic brand architecture. In recent years at Fingerpaint we see more and more pharmaceutical companies taking a divisional marketing approach i.e. Company X Oncology or Company Y Immunology. This type of divisional branding helps build credibility. It paves the way for pipeline products. It allows companies to sell a technology or a platform. And that can attract talent.
The general idea in the past was that unwanted effects or issues associated with a certain product could harm the overall brand of the company, which makes sense given the high stakes involved in life, death, well-being and illness. Today, there is a lot of talk about the empowered patient / consumer. These people, armed with the Internet and with genuine interest, want to know where their drugs are coming from and what the corporate brand behind them represents. If there is a problem, a quick Google search will reveal everything, so is it worth hiding the company brand more? If you think about it, mega blockbusters like Humira and Keytruda only really get recognized by healthcare professionals (HCPs), payers and patients, when they could have brought positive brand recognition to AbbVie and Merck, respectively, even if only for the remaining years on the patent. The company’s branding has been almost invisible to the vast majority of consumers, and this certainly shouldn’t be the case in the future.
Pharmacy Director turned to Christina Falzano, Managing Director of Conran Design Group, for an opinion:
“I believe the growing importance of corporate pharmaceutical brands is likely to continue even after the pandemic has declined in a number of ways. Corporate brands can act as a guarantee of quality and reassurance by giving stakeholders (patients, caregivers, payers, healthcare professionals, investors) confidence in a new drug or a new indication. Alternatively, corporate brands can benefit from the halo associated with breakthrough and blockbuster drugs. In some cases I think we will see the link made explicit through an approval model (X Pharmaceutical Drug by Y Pharmaceutical Company), while in others I predict the link will be less direct, perhaps implicitly. suggested by the use of connected elements in the corporate and product brand identities: color palettes, typographies or similar or shared design elements, or even naming conventions. “
As we move forward into 2022, Pharmacy Director will eagerly keep an eye on the market to see how it all unfolds. Fundamentally, pharmaceutical companies don’t have the capacity to capture the attention of every customer like a Nike, for example, looking for customers with feet; they have a more limited scope and target certain groups of patients for specific conditions. That said, the spotlights won by Pfizer, Moderna and J&J will likely not be overlooked. Either way, expect corporate brands to get more involved in the future in order to gain the edge.
Fran Pollaro is editor-in-chief for Pharm Exec. He can be contacted at